Stress hormones and immune function

Cell Immunol. 2008 Mar-Apr;252(1-2):16-26. doi: 10.1016/j.cellimm.2007.09.006. Epub 2008 Feb 14.


Over the past 20 years we have demonstrated both in animal models and in human studies that stress increases neuroendocrine hormones, particularly glucocorticoids and catecholamines but to some extent also prolactin, growth hormone and nerve growth factor. We have also shown that stress, through the action of these stress hormones, has detrimental effects on immune function, including reduced NK cell activity, lymphocyte populations, lymphocyte proliferation, antibody production and reactivation of latent viral infections. Such effects on the immune system have severe consequences on health which include, but are not limited to, delayed wound healing, impaired responses to vaccination and development and progression of cancer. These data provide scientific evidence of the effects of stress on immune function and implications for health.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Hormones / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Hypothalamo-Hypophyseal System
  • Immunity*
  • Neurosecretory Systems / immunology*
  • Pituitary-Adrenal System
  • Stress, Physiological / immunology*


  • Hormones